Hammonasset State Park in Rhode Island | Best Beach Camping in New EnglandPhoto Credit : Wikimedia Commons
Always wanted to go camping by the ocean? From Maine to Connecticut, here are some of the best beach camping destinations we’ve found in New England — but book early, as these seaside spots fill up fast.
Boasting 900 acres, Hammonasset is 2 miles of sandy beach with mild ocean temperatures (we’ve enjoyed the sea there well into September) and a light surf. All in all, it’s perfect for swimming, hiking, and surf fishing. The array of 550-plus well-maintained campsites makes for an inexpensive beach vacation when the big resort hotels are overflowing.
Maine’s Mount Desert Island offers two park campgrounds. The popular Blackwoods, located 5 miles south of Bar Harbor on Route 3, has 306 sites conveniently located on the east side of the island. Seawall, located 4 miles south of Southwest Harbor, has 214 tent sites nestled in the woods; plus, the campground is only a 10-minute walk to the tidal pools. Both are close to hiking, boating, and mountain biking opportunities.
Located on a 255-acre peninsula overlooking Casco Bay, Hermit Island has 270 campsites, some with ocean views. To the north are several beaches, hiking trails, and a small marina and wharf. Enjoy sandy beaches, rocky cliffs, and forests before toasting marshmallows under the stars. When reserving, note that campsites fall into four categories depending on proximity to the ocean, views, and beach access. If you’re not keen on tent camping, three cabins are available to rent.
“Tired of the congestion of southern Maine? Looking for a Maine campground vacation that accommodates both RV camping and tent camping in separate shaded camping sites?” The website says it all. Located on the shores of Penobscot Bay, between bustling Bar Harbor and charming Camden, Searsport Shores offers a quarter-mile of private beach with a 100-yard tide. Some of the 125 campsites even have ocean views.
It’s hard to find a more memorable beach camping spot in New England. Where else can you pitch a tent and sleep under the stars so close to a major metropolitan city? Camping is allowed on certain islands (including Lovells, Peddocks, Grape, and Bumpkin) during the summer months, but sites are limited — and popular! Make your reservation early, then enjoy the beaches, wildlife, tide pools, and spectacular city views.
Sandy shore and tranquil forest — both sides of Cape Cod can be your playground all week for less than you’d pay for a single night at a family resort. So pack up your kids, the dog, and a tent (or reserve a yurt if you’re new to camping) and enjoy evenings by a campfire at your private site after days of hiking this 700-acre preserve or swimming in relatively warm bay waters. It’s a little-advertised perk that campers here enjoy free access to nearby Scusset Beach. And even more obscure that mushroom foragers love these woods.
To keep things orderly, the 484 campsites — each with picnic table and barbecue grill — are arranged along lettered streets. The campground doesn’t sit right on the water, but it’s within walking distance of Salisbury Beach, a 4-mile stretch of dunes and white sand beach, with plenty of room to spread out.
Families have been coming to this woodsy enclave for idylls on the Cape Cod Canal in the shadow of the Bourne Bridge for more than 50 years. Two in-ground pools offer freshwater swimming, and saltwater beaches are only a short bike ride away. Catch dinner by fishing off the rocks.
Seasonal RV camping at Hampton Beach State Park offers oceanfront facilities situated along miles of sandy beach. In fact, the 28 sites make up the only RV park on the New Hampshire coast. Located at the mouth of the Hampton River and close to attractions like sandy beaches, whale watching, and saltwater fishing, Hampton Beach is a popular summer camping destination. Note: Campers must be able to hook up to water, sewer, and electricity — tents or pop-ups are not allowed.
SEE MORE:Things to Do in Hampton Beach, NH
Located within walking distance of the beach and boasting panoramic views of Block Island Sound, the 75 sites at Charlestown Breachway are RV-only (no tents). There’s a boat launch with limited parking, plus some of the best saltwater fishing in South County. Prefer swimming? Take a dip at Ninigret, the state’s largest coastal pond, just a short stroll away.
Also in Charlestown, East Beach is a large stretch of sand overlooking the Atlantic Ocean and Narragansett Bay. Part of the Ninigret Conservation Area, the 20-site RV campground has not just a beautiful beach but also hiking trails and terrific opportunities for bird-watching.
Do you have a favorite beach camping spot?
Note: This information was accurate at the time of publication. When planning a trip, please confirm details by directly contacting any company or establishment you intend to visit.
This post was first published in 2017 and has been updated.